By Dave B.
In Beasts of No Nation (Netflix), civil war has engulfed a West African country. Agu is a young boy living a happy life with his family in a town declared neutral territory by the warring parties. When the war escalates and the town is invaded by rebels and government forces, Agu finds himself alone, wandering the jungle, looking for a safe haven when he is abducted by a rebel group. He becomes trained, indoctrinated, and abused on his way to becoming a deadly child soldier in a gruesome conflict.
I’ve put off watching Beasts of No Nation for a long time, mostly because I didn’t want to watch something that would depress the hell out of me. And yes, Beasts of No Nation is one of the most emotionally brutal movies that I’ve seen in years. After the first 20 minutes or so of the 120 minute film, there isn’t one instant that isn’t heartbreaking.
But Beasts of No Nation also happens to be one of the most captivating stories that I’ve ever encountered in any media format. I couldn’t look away from the screen. Watching a gorgeous, fertile land being torn apart and children’s lives being destroyed in the most horrific ways is hard to watch, but the film is filled to the brim with impressive performances and there’s a certain...beauty in the bonds of family that the child soldiers form with each other despite the drugs, violence, and abuse that permeate their lives.
Beasts of No Nation isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s an unflinching look at a daily reality that most of us are fortunate enough to never have to experience. I highly recommend this movie. The story itself, the performances, and the rawness of it shouldn’t be missed. But more sensitive types may want wait until they’re in the right state of mind before taking on a movie that’s this emotionally impactful because there’s no way you’ll feel the same after watching this film as you felt going into it.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.